Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

Natasha Singer, New York Times, Sept 05, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I've seen this cited in a bunch of places (eg. Larry Cuban, Tim Stahmer, Doug Levin), and I've seen any number of the teacher-brands the article refers to (they're also the one's getting their students to vote for them in various contests). The tenor of the article (and most of the commentary) is that what they're doing is wrong. Accepting technology in exchange for endorsements is "a very questionable activity," says Fordham's Joel Reidenberg. And the article criticizes teacher certifications, saying they are like a "Google certified doctor" or "Pfizer distinguished nurse". But endorsement by private corporations is widespread. Doctors and nurses are affiliated with hospitals and HMOs. Nobody questioned things like "certified Novell Engineer" or PMI certification for managers. Or for that matter a Harvard MBA. So how does it become wrong when teachers engage in the same practice of endorsement and marketing. Sure, it's not for me (but then, I'm not living on poverty-level wages). But I don't think it's reasonable to expect teachers to play by different rules than all those people making more money than they are.

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